Church & Politics – An Un-Holy Alliance

churchandstateIt is not a secret that the Church in Kerala has always stood by the Congress party during elections. I have heard a story, that in the early days, during the Sunday sermon, the priest would raise his “hand” up in the air and say “every one should vote“. The raised hand was to indicate that the faithful should vote for Congress party, without openly campaigning for it. I am not sure how authentic this story is, but this was to point out the close alliance between the Congress party and the Church in Kerala.

In my days, I have seen politicians making frequent visits to the Vicars of Churches in their constituency as part of their campaigns. It was also during this time that the late Bishop of Thrissur, Mar. Joseph Kundukulam, compared K Karunakaran to Jesus Christ (I wrote an article in those days against the Bishop’s statement, in a handwritten magazine published by CLC – a Catholic youth organization). K Karunakaran’s friendship with Bishop Kundukulam was very infamous in those days.

Time flew and the Church softened it’s stand against Communists. But it did not last long. With the 7th standard text book and the self-finance college issues, the Church went on a rampant campaign against the Communists, under the leadership of Thrissur Archbishop Mar Andrews Thazhath and Changanassery Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil. Now that the elections are approaching, different Churches in Kerala are taking different steps to make sure that they get a fair share of the political pie. But surprisingly, the Congress party chose not to play with the tunes of the Church.

First it was the Thrissur Archbishop, Mar Andrews Thazhath, who supported the candidature of Tom Vadakkan for Thrissur constituency. But the proposal was turned down by AICC, followed by a strong statement from the head of Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil. This statement has just added my respect to Mar Varkey Vithayathil, even though his is a lone voice in the Syro-Malabar Church supreme administration.

Cardinal Vithayahil, who is also the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) says it is wrong for bishops, priests and Church leaders to intervene in the selection of candidates during the elections.

”The Catholic Church and Christian leaders should not intervene in party politics. Church can ask the people to vote for the right candidates, but should not involve in electioneering and selection of candidates for particular constituencies,” Cardinal Vithayathil told reporters. [ via ]

The Latin Church, which is an influential force in Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram districts have gone a step further. The Varappuzha Archbishop, Daniel Acharuparambil, sent a list of four candidates to Sonia Gandhi. But Ramesh Chennithala, the Congress chief of Kerala, rejected the communal interference.

The letter was written by the Varapuzha Archbishop Daniel Acharuparambil, who is also President of the Kerala Regional Latin Catholic Council, the body that looks after the social and other activities of the church.

The church has given three other names. The list does not contain the names of sitting Ernakulam Congress legislator and former minister K.V. Thomas or former Congress legislator and former minister Dominic Presentation. [ via ]

The Orthodox Church went even further. When their candidate request was turned down by Congress party, the Orthodox Church in Kerala decided to put up four candidates on their own for the polls. Now this is something new as no Church in Kerala has openly placed it’s candidates in elections.

The Orthodox Church had sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi expressing its wish that one of its members, who are active Congress supporters, be fielded. George Joseph, secretary of the church, said that the Congress had not even acknowledged the letter, said a report from IANS. [ via ]

The Congress party and Sonia Gandhi have wisely turned down the proposals from the Church supremos in all these cases which is a good sign. Or else BJP would have used this chance to accuse the “Christian” Sonia Gandhi playing in tunes of the Church. But now that will not have any substance.

It is clear that the faithful (except the ignorant lot and the power hungry creamy-layer in the community) is not going to blindly follow the orders of the Bishops like Mar Andrews Thazhath or Mar Daniel Acharuparambil. Because whenever the church has sponsored a Congress candidate, with public statements and pastoral letters, he lost. Edezhath, a close confidant of the high priests, lost by over 70,000 votes to an LDF independent in 2004 [via]. Thrissur in particular has a history of failing the over-confident power politicians. History has it that when Karunakaran contested from Thrissur he was defeated and when his son Muraleedharan contested from Thrissur in the very next polls, he too was defeated. In those two years, Thrissurians decided to send a noble man, V V Raghavan (of CPI), to parliament. And this year, it will be very interesting to see the results.

(Image source: Internet)

Vote for… errr… whom?

There are a lot of online campaigns going on behalf of several candidates for India general elections in 2009. The whole drama is very interesting. It looks like the campaign officers believe that the online campaign is going to work in India just like it did in USA. Evidently, they have not considered the % of citizens in India who use Internet and what % of it would actually go to the polling booths. The first place of course goes to Advani as PM. His cyber team has succeeded in bringing him in every single website (and it looks like these website owners do not know how to block a URL from appearing in their Google Ads).

Then there is Mallika Sarabhai who is contesting against L K Advani from Gandhinagar. I was kind of surprised to see her Facebook support group as I do not understand how it is going to help her win the elections in Gandhinagar. I’m just wondering, how many of the Gandhinagar voters are going to vote for Mallika Sarabhai just because of her online campaigns? How many Netizens are there in her constituency? How are the online campaigns going to work if the on-ground campaigns are not working? So I think she better use her time for on-ground work, encouraging people to vote, convince them of the politics of BJP, and how she can make Gujarat a better place. It just doesn’t matter a person from Thrissur constituency supporting Mallika Sarabhai to win from Gandhinagar through a Facebook group, because it is finally up to the people of Gandhinagar to decide whether she goes into parliament or not. And just to add, I really would like to see her win against L K Advani.

Then there is Shashi Tharoor, the poster boy of Congress from Kerala. I saw him today in the evening, campaigning outside a restaurant at Trivandrum and people have mixed reactions. Some say “he looks so handsome” and thus their votes might go to him. Youngsters see him as “an icon”, as he had served some top positions in the UN and they believe that he would be a refreshing change if he gets elected as he is an educated person. The others see him as “an outsider” who came to Kerala just to fulfill his political ambitions and do not know the on-ground issues and they even say that he doesn’t know to speak good Malayalam. An opposition to this says that alll politicians are contesting with their political ambitions and Shashi Tharoor is no exception, so there is no need to see him with a particular hatred. And add to that, the accused links Mr. Tharoor has with Coca-Cola company (read this in connection with Plachimada issue).

I really wish that Mallika Sarabhai wins in Gandhinagar against L K Advani. But I do not have a say there as it is up to the people of that constituency. So I hope Mallika does some work on the ground out there, rather than spending her time to create Facebook groups and raising her popularity over the Internet, if she is not contesting for the PM post.

Ammathu – Children’s Camp

Meandyou Peforming Company is an initiative by Mr. Manu Jose, who was anchor of many popular TV shows like Asianet TV’s Chirakukal, India Vision TV’s Oridathoridathu, Kairali TV’s Mittayivandi etc. Ammathu is a children’s camp organized by Meandyou Performing Company which is entering it’s 3rd year. This year, Ammathu is taking place at Kodanad Mana (this Mana is an Ettukettu), Vellerakkad, Thrissur from April 18th to 25th, 2009.

Major attractions include:

Accelerated Learning

A breakthrough system of learning that will help kids to ease their learning process. It will empower them to:

1) Improve memory and concentration
2) Remember facts and figures with ease
3) Make revisions fun and enjoyable
4) Plan answers calmly during exams
5) Pass exams in flying colours
6) Become optimistic about success

This session will be handled by Mr. Haridas Mani, principal, Govt Polytechnic, Thrissur and is a member of ITAA, USA.

The Dare Devils

This is an adventure games session and will be facilitated by National Adventure Academy, Devikulam in association with Kestrel Adventures, Munnar.

Meet the Masters

A rare chance to interact with maestros like Usha Nangiar (the great exponent of Nangiar Koothu) and V K K Hariharan, an expert in Mizhavu who will juggle you with rhythm.

Write & Recite

This will be a child friendly session on poetry and recitation led by poets like P P Ramachandran, Anvar Ali, P N Gopikrishnan, K R Tony and P Raman.

Games you NEVER played

Have you ever heard of a university for children? That too in Kerala? Yes, we have one at Kalady, beautifully named NILAVU. E K Sukumaran and Biju P Naduvattam, two activists from NILAVU will introduce you to some of the traditional games which many of you may not have seen, heard or played.

Apart from these, there are other popular programmes such as Sing Along, Art Mad, Trekking, Yoga and Film screening.

The organizers say that their aim is not to ‘teach’ children any art or anything in particular, rather to help them develop sensitivity, flair and taste towards different facets of life and art. And they say that have taken all precautions for ensuring the safety of children, providing them with a secure and hygienic lodging, good quality healthy food and enough number of male and female volunteers.

So if you would like to send your kids to the camp, register on or before March 15th. Or contact Manu Jose at 94471 94411. You can also email at For more details visit

Book Republic

Book Republic is an alternate book publishing and distribution platform founded by a group of Malayalam bloggers. Their aim is to bring in talented writers to the mainstream and to implement a decentralized distribution system. Their first book, “Nilavliliye kurichu kadam kathakal”, which is a collection of poems by T P Vinod (who writes in the name Lapuda), has been published on last Saturday. You can order the book from And their blog is here.

Horticop Vegetable Kits

One of the good things (among the many bad things) that LDF Government has initiated in Kerala is the Horticop’s (The Kerala State Horticulture Corporation) vegetable kit supply. Horticop supply vegetable kits at major market places in and around Thiruvananthapuram city for Rs. 18. The initiative was taken place when the vegetable prices shot up and to make sure that the people get vegetables at a good price. The above picture shows the Horticop’s vehicle supplying the vegetable kits at Vazhuthacaud, Trivandrum (picture taken from my office). This supply vehicle comes almost everyday in the evenings and there is a huge crowd gathering to buy the kits and all the kits are sold out in a few minutes. There is also meat supply in another vehicle, which again makes sure that you get good farm meat prodicts at a good price.

The Horticop has also set up small shops in different parts of the city and these stores are also being extended to other districts. This initiative also helps some people get employment and the others to buy vegetables at a good price.

The “Dry Day” Comedy

Kerala’s liquor policy is one of the most stupid and ineffective decisions of the previous government which is being continued to the date by the current government. According to the existing policy, bars and liquor shops would remain shut on the first of every month and on all government holidays. One of the reasons cited for this move was that the employees would spend a good portion of their monthly salary in the bars or for buying liquor from the shops on the first of every month. So the government thought this move would reduce the liquor consumption, but they were wrong.

In fact, the government statistics show that Malayalees’ liquor consumption has only increased ever since the policy put in place. The reasons are plenty. Not all drunkards are salaried people. There are so many people who work for daily wages who spend a good portion of their daily wages to buy liquor from the shops or from bar hotels. And for salaried sector, they buy and store liquor prior to the holidays (including Hartal days as Hartal is also a major holiday here in Kerala). So you can see big queues outside the liquor shops on 30th or 31st of every month. Well, that’s not all. Even on the 1st of every month and holidays, you will get liquor for some extra bucks. Some three star hotels sell liquor on these days through their backdoor. Only difference is that you will have to pay some extra than the usual shop rate. Some ‘wise men’ also store liquor in big quantities and sell them to their ‘regular customers’ on these Dry Days. So you only have to give them a call and get your bottle delivered, again, for some extra bucks.

So in effect, the government’s policy is only helping some private parties to make more money out of the Dry Days. This joke has got to stop and government should think about other ways to effectively implement the liquor policy.

(Image courtesy: